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Crescent City Culture: I want to live at the Prytania

By Mary Lou Atkinson

Eudora Welty once wrote a story about a woman who lived at the post office. I want to live at the Prytania Theatre (

Popcorn, candy and wide-screen entertainment – who could ask for anything more?

Certainly not any local movie-goer, since offerings at this Uptown oasis run the gamut from up-and-coming Oscar contenders to film festival favorites, from the classics to cutting-edge cinema, from Harry Potter’s exploits to Harry Shearer’s “The Big Uneasy.”

On a recent week’s schedule were the brand-new “Jane Eyre”; a noon Classic Movie Series screening of “Laura” on Wednesday and “The Ten Commandments” on Saturday and Sunday; and midnight screenings of “Boogie Nights” on Friday and Saturday. Adding to the appeal of any afternoon showing is its price of $5.50.

The recently renovated theater itself is one of the city’s star attractions: It’s the only remaining single-screen movie theater in Louisiana and the oldest operating movie theater in New Orleans, having opened its doors in 1915.

Also playing a starring role in this enterprise is owner Rene Brunet, a New Orleans movie theater historian and veteran of some 70 years in the business. Usually sporting a movie-themed tie, Brunet regularly shares Tinseltown trivia in introductions to and post-show discussions of the noon classics. (One example: In “North by Northwest,” a child “extra” in the Mount Rushmore cafeteria scene presages the what-should-be-a-surprise gunshot by sticking his fingers in his ears before the big bang.)

Brunet may not live at the Prytania, but I say he has the best home-away-from-home in the Crescent City.


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